Student Achievement and Support Committee: November 14, 2019

by Lynda Rubin

This was the third and final Committee meeting of the day. Like the others, the pace was brisk, there were few answers to questions posed by members of the public, and there was little dialogue.

Present:  Co-Chairs Dr. Angela McIver and Dr. Chris McGinley, Committee members Mallory Fix Lopez, Julia Danzy and Dr. Maria McColgan. Board members President Joyce Wilkerson and Wayne Walker sat in for most of the meeting.  Minutes of the October 10, 2019 Student Achievement and Support Committee were approved and will be posted on the District website. McGiver announced that, when possible, items to be discussed will be posted one week before the meeting.

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Finance and Facilities Committee: November 14, 2019

by Lisa Haver

This Committee meeting, the second of three consecutive meetings on this day, presented a great deal of new and updated information.  Committee members answered few of the questions asked by public speakers. Staff presentations were not posted prior to the meeting, nor were hard copies of Action Items provided at the meeting. In violation of the Board’s speaker policy, some speakers were granted more time than others.

Present:  Co-chairs Leticia Egea-Hinton and Lee Huang, Committee members Joyce Wilkerson and Wayne Walker. Board members Julia Danzy , Mallory Fix Lopez, Angela McIver ,  Maria McColgan and Chris McGinley also attended. Minutes of the October 10 meeting were approved by voice vote.

First item on the Agenda: an update on construction at Benjamin Franklin High School that has necessitated the indefinite relocation of both Ben Franklin and SLA students. This brought a rare appearance by Dr. Hite, who is usually represented at Committee meetings by Chief of Staff Naomi Wyatt.

Huang opened by stating that the Board has been carefully monitoring the situation at Ben Franklin. He asked Hite to give more comprehensive report at the Action Meeting.  Rather than respond to Huang’s question, Hite asked Chief Financial Officer Uri Monson to give an update on classroom leveling. Monson gave a brief report and promised more details later in the meeting.

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Eyes on the Board of Education: November 21, 2019

by Karel Kilimnik

APPS members continue to ask when the Board will institute real education reform.   Rebuild District infrastructure. Stop hollowing out the central administration and diverting that work to outside vendors. Fund smaller class size and the restoration of school libraries. The Board needs to step up and provide leadership in righting the direction of this District. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience within this District–use it. Stop bringing in outsiders with no commitment to the community.  Fill 440 with administrators who can answer our questions, respond to parents, students, school staff, and community members when concerns are raised and questions asked. It is time for the Board to step up and show us that they have the will and capacity to rebuild our District.

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Ears on the Board of Education: October 17, 2019

by Diane Payne

This meeting’s agenda held two hot-button items.  Two Renaissance charter schools, Aspira Olney High School and Aspira Stetson Middle School, had been recommended for non-renewal twice, in 2016 and 2019, as a result of Aspira’s failure to meet academic, financial, and organizational standards. Aspira’s admittedly improper, often fraudulent, financial practices had been well documented in the local media since 2013.  APPS members had testified, written letters, and appealed to local elected officials to resolve the Aspira matter after postponements by both the SRC and the Board. The District held 16 days of legal hearings last Spring in which lawyers for Olney and Stetson failed to refute the many deficiencies exposed by the Charter School Office (CSO). Rudolph Garcia, who presided over those hearings, had presented his report to the Board last week.  Garcia echoed the CSO’s recommendation for non-renewal. Aspira brought staff, parents and students to fight for continued Aspira control of the schools, touting the improved climate at the schools. But last-minute personal testimonies do not negate extensive documentation of the many flagrant deficiencies across all domains at these two charter schools.

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